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Charleston lawyer named federal magistrate judge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston lawyer Dwane L. Tinsley was appointed U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston on Friday by district judges, his office confirmed Monday.

His swearing-in is tentatively scheduled for April 8, clerk Teresa Deppner said. Tinsley replaces Judge Mary Stanley, who retired at the end of March. She was the state's first female federal magistrate.

Tinsley, a Fayetteville native who earned his law degree from West Virginia University in 1981, is an attorney with Hendrickson & Long PLLC.

He worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1987 to 1991 after leaving a position as a Fayette County assistant prosecutor, according to his résumé on the website of the University of Charleston, where he teaches classes on forensic accounting and fraud investigations.

Tinsley was in a meeting Monday in Beckley, according to his office. He did not return a phone call.

He served as special prosecutor in Kanawha County in 2005 to investigate the case of Bill Charnock, the former Kanawha County prosecutor who was accused of using public resources at the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute to help his campaign for prosecutor and the campaigns of his siblings.

In exchange for Charnock's resignation and promise to never again seek public office, Tinsley agreed not to present his findings to a grand jury or to release them to the public.

In 2010, the state appointed Tinsley special attorney general to help the Department of Administration and the Division of Highways comply with subpoenas during a federal investigation of former Gov. Joe Manchin's administration.

Tinsley turned down FOIA requests for the subpoenas, saying at the time that releasing them could interfere with the investigation.

In 2008, Tinsley became the second black man to be president of the West Virginia State Bar. He has also served as president of the Mountain State Bar, the professional association for black lawyers.

Charleston attorney Harry Deitzler is president-elect of the State Bar. He said for Tinsley to become judge is a natural transition.

"He's very mature in his decision-making process. He weighs both sides," Deitzler said. "There was at least once case, maybe two, where he was opposing counsel to me and you never had to worry about whether or not he was fairly considering your position. I can't say that about every attorney in this state."

State Bar President James Wright, a Wheeling attorney, said Tinsley would "make a fine magistrate."

"I had heard of him before meeting him," Wright said. "Once I was able to work with him I saw just how logical he was. He has great intellect, integrity -- he's just a great guy. It's a great choice."

The current annual salary of the federal magistrate judge position is $160,080, according to the job posting on the federal court's website.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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